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Captain Marvel – blandest, most controversial flick


GVS Magazine Desk |

There is strange irony in Captain Marvel being both the blandest and the most controversial movie to date. The Brie Larson Marvel film is officially Marvel’s first female-led movie, a film that is decidedly too late considering it is the studio’s 21st superhero film. Even before the film was released it became the subject of much scrutiny when its Academy Award winner lead stated that she wanted more diversity in the press junket for the film than simply white men.

The ensuing chaos that followed lead to the film becoming much-talked about and has, in fact, helped the film become Marvel’s first superhero-origin story to reach the billion-dollar milestone since Black Panther and the first movie with a female lead to gross a billion dollars.

In reality, there is very little that is special about Captain Marvel and the fact that the film crossed the billion-dollar mark at the worldwide box office is more a testament to the film’s placement before the hotly-anticipated Avengers: Endgame, than the contents of the film. The movie features Larson as a member of an elite alien military task force in the planet of Hala who crash lands on Earth during her mission to find an evil race of shape-shifting aliens and discovers a past life she has no memory of.

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Her search for answers puts her in the crosshairs of Agent Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson reprising his role from the Avengers movies) who helps her in her quest. The film features Jude Law as her mentor Yon-Rogg, as well as Annette Bening and Ben Mendelsohn in key roles. The film, overall, verges from being mediocre to watchable. The most recent Marvel movies have done a good job of creating stories that are compelling and feel original. Sadly, Captain Marvel is not one of them.

The movie’s Bourne Identity-inspired take majorly backfires considering that Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) does not seem to have much in the form of a personality. Larson, who has some excellent roles to her credit (Short Term 12 and Room, come to mind), feels like a fish out of water, when she is supposed to glower and pose. In the lighter scenes and action scenes, she fares much better and in the hands of a less skilled actress, the paper-thin character would not nearly be as likable as Larson ends up making Carol, even though there is not a lot to the role.

Samuel L Jackson, who has been digitally de-aged for the movie turns in a winning performance. His easy chemistry with Larson makes for some good comedy bits and banter and let us hope that we get to see more of him in sequels with the superhero. Another scene stealer is Goose the cat, who is quite possibly the most adorable animal to ever appear on the screen. The cat is a star on his own right and Jackson and Goose’s scenes are particularly wholesome.

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While Annette Bening’s role is little more than a glorified cameo, Jude Law and Ben Mendelsohn are the bigger players in the movie. Jude Law’s character Yon-Rogg was somewhat disappointing, and although the film ensures that we keep up to date on his antics, the film never really gives us a reason for caring about his agenda. Ben Mendelsohn is suited much better as a Skrull who is more than what meets the eye. Even in alien prosthetics, Mendelhson is marvelous and is both magnetic and scary, making for a good character.

Unfortunately, the film’s clunky pace, poor direction, and writing make Captain Marvel quite forgettable. The film’s attempt at a twist does not work when there is little context provided as to why the bad guys are behaving a certain way. Danvers too fully changes her behavior in the third act, something that never quite makes sense and smacks of lazy writing.

For what it is worth, the film’s desire to shake up the origin story could have worked had it fully committed to the idea and given us three-dimensional characters and a hero who did not feel overpowered from the beginning. As it stands though there is no sense of thrill in the climactic scenes, and no emotion in what are clearly scenes that should pack a lot of heart. We come and watch Carol crush one obstacle after another without feeling anything, and while the end result is a satisfying flick, it really does feel like Captain Marvel as a whole crash lands before it can come close to reaching the stars.

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